physical abuse

After his conviction, Richard comes to my church

To my shock, Richard showed up at my church today.  I hadn’t seen him there since last Christmas, and thought that–ever since I reported him to Social Services and he got convicted of choking his kid–he would never show up at my church again, out of shame, knowing or suspecting that I know what he did.  (The Forum was shocked as well.)

But there he was, so who knows when he could show up again.  Every week maybe?  And my church is TINY.  It’s hard to stay at opposite ends of the church in a church that small.  Staying at opposite ends means staying a yard or two apart.  Because of this, even though Jeff normally drops me off and leaves (he’s Lutheran), he stayed nearby as moral support–or a kind of bodyguard.

But I did note a few things.  They may mean nothing, or they may mean something, I don’t know: Richard was very quiet during the service, even during the Creed.  I didn’t hear him and he was just two or three pews back with nobody in between.  He did not go to get the Eucharist.

Only two children were with him: The child he choked was not there.  The youngest also was not there, and neither was Tracy.

He was right behind me in the line to get blessed bread from the priest, but said nothing to me.  Of course, I was sending out clear body language to “stay away.”

Unlike the first or second time I saw them at my church after everything went down, this time I’m given strength by the knowledge that I should not cower in shame from someone who did such a horrible thing to a little kid.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two children who were there.  Child #1 is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’ll pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Child #2 is older, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got Child #2’s scolding eyes.  She said things like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”

Jeff tells me he also got her scolding eyes.  But you can’t tell a little child, “Sorry, but we can’t come to your house anymore because your mother is nasty and your father choked your sister.”  So instead, I said, “We miss you, too.”

I hate to see children suffer from the sins of the parents.  I keep praying that the probation officer and Social Services are working to change things for those girls so they can break the cycle.

Jeff does not want to be friends with these people again.

[The case also showed up in the local newspaper’s printed listing of court cases, in November, showing his name, the ruling, and the amount of the fine.]

I posted on Facebook a dedication to Richard: “Suedehead” by Morrissey:

Why do you come here?  And why do you hang around?  Why do you come here When you know it makes things hard for me?  When you know, oh…Why do you come?

I also wrote:

Today I was put in the extremely uncomfortable and heartbreaking position of talking to a child who didn’t understand why I don’t come around anymore, and seeing the scold in her eyes.

“It was fun playing at your house,” she said.  “We miss you,” she said.

But you can’t tell a child that her parents’ disgraceful behavior is the reason.  “We miss you, too,” was all I could say.

I don’t get it–Why does he come to my church if he’s not going to try to make things right with us?  It’s supposed to be my refuge, my peaceful place.  But he keeps showing up there like a bad penny.

He has his own church.  What he did to me, has put me into my own Long Dark Night of the Soul; when he choked his daughter, I was horrified; and when I see him again, it’s a setback, when I’ve come so far along.

Every Sunday service, I’m afraid to go because he might be there.  Why doesn’t he leave me alone?

Dude, I don’t hate you, but I am extremely disappointed in you.  I expected much better of you…….

Then I posted a link to my blog post, Healing Takes a Long Time.  Some excerpts:

I had thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.  A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.  They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Hubby stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.

The other one is 7, and upset at Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Hubby also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.

I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.

All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Hubby and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

[5/4/14: Instead, he just spent the whole time ignoring us, making no move to make peace with us, instead telling one of my fellow parishioners about his conversion to Orthodoxy. 

His conversion–hmph–What a joke!  Was that an Orthodox way to treat us, Richard?  You’re no Christian!]

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”  But in my heart I just don’t believe that.

I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He had never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.

If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

[Below was added in spring 2014.]

Tracy accused me of breaking off relations with her because I needed to “grow up” and accept the “consequences” of my “behavior.” 

No, we broke off relations with her because she’s a screaming harpy, a child abuser, a husband beater, and an abusive friend who bullies shy, quiet, gentle people. 

We had already considered breaking off relations with her several times before that, even considered reporting her to CPS before the breakup. 

Her behavior on July 1, 2010 was the last straw. 

And now we have proof, in black and white, and in the state’s court records, that Richard is also a child abuser, making his loss no longer the tragedy I thought it was.

But I still suffered from residual pain and grief over his loss.

On October 31, 2011, the newspaper published this letter I sent to the editor:

I commend Jaymee Barton (“Surviving Violence,” Oct. 24) for speaking out on domestic abuse and [two local newspapers] for publishing stories about this issue over the past year.

An earlier article, “Injuries to Child Raise Questions” (Aug. 26), discussed sentencing for child abusers.  Recently, a local man who choked his young daughter was charged with two felonies.  But through plea bargaining, his sentence became probation, no jail time.

How can this happen with such a despicable act?  Is that child being protected?  Domestic abuse is far too common – husbands abusing wives emotionally, verbally and/or physically, wives abusing husbands in the same way, husbands and wives abusing each other, parents abusing children.

And keep in mind that “domestic abuse” [in Wisconsin] applies to anyone living together, including roommates.  People laugh at women abusing men, but it happens quite a bit, even physically.  Even going to counseling can be a way for the abuser to control the abused by manipulating the counselor.

I also commend Social Services and the police in trying to stop abuse.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects abuse should report it to the police or Social Services to help them do their job protecting those who can’t protect themselves.  And I hope the abused, even children, will have the courage to tell someone who can help.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

The Light is Shining Through–Finding Faith Again After the Fall of a Spiritual Mentor: Fighting the Darkness

Many months have passed since my “Fighting the Darkness” post.  I believe I wrote it right after discovering that a friend of mine, who was also friends with Richard, had dropped me on Facebook, so I became paranoid and depressed, wondering why he dropped me, and what Richard had told him.

Things have come to light which I had no way of knowing when I wrote it.

In short, the ex-friend I spoke of, whom I’ll call “Richard,” whom I thought of as my best and dearest friend from 2006 to 2010, of whom I thought the world, has been charged with choking his own 9-year-old step-daughter until she passed out on September 21, 2010.

She told the police on September 22, 2010.

He admitted to the police that he did it because she was “not listening and cleaning up,” that he had “asphyxiated” her, and that he apologized to her when she woke up on a couch.

They summoned him to court and charged him on March 1, 2011.

The choking incident happened many months before my post, but for some reason he wasn’t officially charged until a few weeks after my post.

This devastated me as I began to realize the true character of this person I once put on a pedestal as an awesome man of God, the one who showed me the way to Orthodoxy, the one who answered my questions about Orthodoxy and helped me over the hurdles, the one I went to with questions and confessions about morality and spiritual struggles.

He was charged with intentional child abuse causing injury with high probability of great harm, and second degree recklessly endangering safety, both serious felonies that could have led to significant jail time.

But on October 3, 2011, he plea bargained it down to the child abuse charge being dismissed, but read into the record, and the reckless endangerment charge being amended to a class A misdemeanor of battery, with a year’s probation.  Though if he screws up on probation, he could get 10 days in jail.

This showed me two things which I could no longer deny, even though on occasion I’d remember the old times and think maybe he wasn’t so bad, just a dupe of Stockholm Syndrome:

1) Richard’s own violent tendencies were not tamped down as I thought, but still there and capable of coming out, even to his own little 9-year-old girl.

2) He lied to me about the nature of the abuse in his household.  I soon learned from mutual friend Todd that Richard had also beaten this same girl mercilessly when she was little.

Richard gave me the impression that his wife “Tracy” was the chief aggressor, that his own abusive episodes with the children happened a long time before and he had stopped them, that now he had to protect his children from his wife’s bullying moods.

But these charges showed that he himself was still an aggressor, that he was not reformed after all, that not only did the children need protection from his wife, but they also needed it from him.

He’s very tall and huge, so a slip of a girl would probably see it as being attacked by an ogre or a mountain she can’t escape from.  Imagine the terror she must have felt!

He also told me once that Tracy didn’t like to get him angry because it scared her.  It had happened before.  He said he didn’t mean to scare her, but did anyway.  That’s the trouble when someone as big as he is, doesn’t realize how physically intimidating he is.

I also began to realize that I was truly in the clutches of a narcissist.  I had suspected it for a while, but thought he couldn’t really be that bad.  But there were so many elements of narcissism that sounded very familiar…..  (See here for details.)

Even though Richard was the one who brought me to Orthodoxy as an answer to my faith questions, and helped me all the way through, so that I looked to him as my mentor–Richard wasn’t the only reason I chose Orthodoxy.

That was also because of the influence of various Orthodox forums, such as The Ancient Way and OrthodoxChristianity.net (I was Nyssa).  It was from reading Orthodox books and websites and the River of Fire, and speaking to the priest at the local Greek Orthodox Church, then attending there for more than two years before converting.

My former mentor Richard told me that I knew far more about Orthodoxy than he did when he joined.

While my faith has indeed taken a beating for the reasons I stated previously in Fighting the Darkness, I didn’t choose Orthodoxy to please him, but because I came to believe it.

Pulling it back again has been hard, but it’s slowly and steadily returning.

Ironically, it was his child abuse charges which helped me believe in God again.

Before, I was baffled why, if there truly was a God, He would go to so much trouble to get this person into my life, have him help me find my way to Orthodoxy, then yank him back out again in such horrible circumstances, leaving me a shell of myself, beaten down and battered emotionally.

In my limited sight, it made no sense at all, so I could only pray that this former mentor would repent of his many wrongs to my husband and me, get his wife to see the light as well, and the friendship would be restored.

I wondered how he could go so long without making any move whatsoever to restore a friendship which had provided him with so much help and love and moral support while his family was going through hard times, a friendship which he said was so dear to him.

But when I discovered these charges, that he could likely go to jail for many years for choking his own daughter, I realized that God had been there all along:

First, He put this person into my life for a time to help me find my way spiritually, but eventually I would have to “kill the Buddha” when I realized how screwed-up my mentor actually was, when I thought he was pious and righteous.

I was there to help him as well with various things, and influence him, try to pull him back from the brink of abuse and domestic violence.  God wants him and his wife saved just as much as He wants me saved.

But ultimately the choice was his and his wife’s to choose abuse or salvation.  They chose abuse.

And God pulled me out just in time, as the choking incident occurred just a little more than two and a half months after the blowup of the friendship proved to my husband and me just how selfish, self-centered and violent these two people are even to friends.

Now, I have killed the Buddha and gone on without him, but with my own church congregation still there.  (No, Richard’s family normally does not go there, but to a different church, though they have visited on occasion even after the breakup.)

One day during Liturgy, while gazing at the icon of the Theotokos painted on the ceiling, I wondered again about reconciliation.  I got the insight that No, not now, because they have their own problems which need to be resolved before I can even think about reconciling with them.

I can only hope that one day, Richard will repent and make amends.  He needs to make them not just to me, but to my husband, and to his own children.

As for Tracy, she also needs to make amends, to Richard, to her children and to me, but it seems unlikely that she ever will, thanks to what seems to be a  personality disorder (borderline, which her mother has, and/or narcissism).

I’ve now basically written her off as a lost cause, and taken everything she ever said about me and relegated it to the refuse pile as being cruel and ridiculous, not based in any sort of reality.  Whenever my mind starts going there again, wondering if any of her words were true, I yank it back out again.

I think back over my college days and realize that, again and again, I was the dupe of narcissists.  In those days, it was the search for romance that led me into their clutches; now, it was the search for friendship.

I read somewhere that narcissists are like a drug: You crave them, get high, feel drained afterwards, then when the drug is taken away from you, you have to go through detox.  And that detox can be very long and painful.

I also realize that this is the second time I’ve been through this.

The first time was during my first Orthodox Lent, February 2007.  My first spiritual mentor, from childhood and through college, was my dad.  Then in 2007, my mom called me and began telling me some shocking things.

I won’t go into it, but a crisis nearly split the family, and things had been hidden from me (though not from my brothers) for my entire life.

I remember thinking then that if I didn’t have Orthodoxy (and, ironically, Richard, who was my spiritual mentor starting in 2006 and helped me through this crisis along with my priest), that my faith would have shattered.  I was Nazarene for most of my life because of my dad.

On my favorite Orthodox forum is a common belief that when you convert to Orthodoxy, the Devil begins attacking you, trying to pull you out of it.  Posters there talk about their own experiences with such things, such as car accidents and spiritual tests.

Maybe I am exactly where I belong, then, because if there is no God, or if there’s nothing of value in Orthodoxy, then why would the Devil so aggressively attack my faith?

It’s never gone through anything like this battering before.  Before, any emotional or other crises only made my faith stronger.  But now the core of that very faith is being attacked.

But now there is one thing I know: That I must stop mourning the loss of Richard’s friendship.  That it wasn’t worth my grief.  For a long time it seemed to be worth the work it took to keep it going, but that was an illusion.

I thought Richard was pious and righteous, but that, too, was an illusion.  The time I grieved over the loss of his friendship, I was in denial over his own violence.  I kept seeing the good in him, where others would have written him off long before.

But then I heard about the charges against him, and verified through his mug shot and address posted on the local newspaper’s website that it was, indeed, him.  Through the newspaper website I also discovered what he had done.

Then I began to stop grieving over him, stop wishing he would repent and return to my husband and me.

I have been vindicated; my concerns over abuse have been confirmed.  It has been proven to me and to the world that we were right to end the friendship, that the opinions of Richard and Tracy about me are not worth taking to heart, that my accusers were themselves the criminals.

It has been proven that Tracy has no business lecturing me about my behavior, because her own has been so egregiously bad and evil.  I must consider the source every time my mind starts to ponder her words yet again, and reject them utterly as ridiculous.

Especially since the various things that she grabbed ahold of as being such foul behavior, are actually perfectly normal and acceptable behavior among my groups of friends.

I hoped that Richard would have a lot of time to think in jail, but now he won’t be going to jail.  However, even if Richard does some day come to us, wanting to restore a friendship, he will have to not only be extremely contrite, but he will also have to prove that he has learned from his mistakes and has turned away from his violent, abusive ways.

He manipulated me into believing he already did this, but then proved that he had not, by doing something so horrible that his own daughter turned him in to the police to protect herself.

She was a very brave girl, and her actions have almost certainly drawn the attention of CPS (who knows about all these other things) as well as the police, so hopefully they will lead to positive changes.

[Update 8/11/13:]

Two years after I wrote this post, I still struggle with faith, but a few things came to mind today when I was supposed to be listening to Father’s sermon:

I don’t want to go into detail, but my husband and I have had some money disagreements in the past.  I’m the “accountant” of the household, and he gave me authority to make financial decisions for reasons I also don’t want to go into.   But there were disagreements about those decisions.  Those disagreements were brought to a resolution.

Yesterday, he made some comments that made me think he was scolding me all over again, bringing up again what I thought had been settled.  I let it pass without much comment, but poured out my frustrations to God last night, not knowing what to make of this.

Then today, out of the blue, my husband realized I took him seriously, and explained he was only teasing.  I explained that the past disagreements caused me to take him seriously.

In short, it was a misunderstanding on my part, and now it was all resolved.  This was a huge relief.

During the sermon, I realized that God had directly and swiftly answered my prayer.  Then more things came to mind, times when God seemed to have abandoned me, but was right there all along:

1) My first breakup of a love relationship (not just a short puppy-love) was from Peter.  He had used his own narcissistic webs to make me think we were meant for each other, so much so that we formed a mental Link with each other.

When he broke things off, he turned so cruel and changed so much from the person I fell in love with, that I actually wondered if demons had taken control of him.  (I was very much influenced by Pat Robertson and Charismatic thinking about the spirit world, which is dramatized in This Present Darkness.)

I fell into a deep, dark depression that lasted for months.  But as time proved, he and I would have been a terrible match: I wanted a clean-cut husband; he abandoned his clean-cut ways, and turned to drinking, smoking and weed.  My beliefs demanded that I marry a fellow Christian; he also abandoned Christianity, and turned to Paganism.

2) My second major breakup was Phil, with whom I had exchanged marriage vows.  Because we had gone so far, and because I had never been the outgoing kind of person who can easily find dates, I fell into another funk, believing that Phil and I were supposed to be together, that divorce would violate Christ’s command that the married stay married.

But he was emotionally, verbally and sexually abusive, manipulating my mind and heart.  He could have destroyed me if I had legally married him.

Our beliefs demanded that we not have sex before marriage, so we exchanged vows.  If we had not done this, if we had either stayed virgins (technically, though not really) or eloped to make our vows legal, his dark side may never have manifested until we got legally married, maybe even had a child together.

Often, abusers don’t show their true colors until after marriage.  So I do not regret the path I chose with Phil, because it led to his true colors showing before I became legally bound to him.  His wife was not so fortunate: He knocked her up, so they “had” to get married.  Now they have been divorced for several years.

Now, I believe that Richard and Tracy were put into my life so I could play an important role: the one to confront them with their abuses, and to report them to Social Services.

It was important, but also extremely difficult.  It took a year of reflection and research before I even reported them, only to find that their daughter had already reported Richard for choking her.

But my report means that Social Services has another perspective on their abuses, a separate voice confirming whatever they came up with as they investigated the choking incident.  I don’t know if I told them anything they didn’t already know, but I am another witness.

However, my role has put me into a challenging and emotionally taxing position.  I have been threatened by Richard and Tracy, and stalked for more than a year.  I have had to face the fact that the one I once revered as a beloved and righteous spiritual mentor, has turned against me for speaking out and telling the truth.

I don’t know why it had to be me.  (Why me?  Why not somebody else?)  Maybe they behaved themselves around their other friends.  Maybe I was the only one, outside of Richard’s family, to whom he told Tracy’s abuses.

Todd stayed with them but didn’t see Tracy’s abuses, so maybe they behaved themselves around him, or maybe the children were too young to start receiving her abuses.  (I noted that the babies would be babied, but children 3+ would start being abused verbally and physically.)

I don’t think Richard told Todd the things he told me about Tracy, even though they were close at the time.  I don’t know why he did not tell Todd these things.

Maybe their other friends had similar parenting views and didn’t see a whack on the head as abuse.  Maybe their friends who broke off relations with them (we were not the first), either did not witness the abuse, or chose not to report it.

All I know is that I was the one who had to do it.  Well, I and the child who was choked.  That is why this person was put in my life when I prayed for a friend.

If it were easy to do the right thing, anyone could have done it.  I guess God decided I was the one capable of doing it.

My husband and I believe Richard and Tracy realized this as well.  We believe this is why they began abusing me again in the spring of 2010, after they had been nice to me for a while.

That this is why they lied, screamed, and abused me in various ways over a misunderstanding, then refused to apologize or admit wrongdoing or my innocence.

That it’s because they knew I was capable of reporting them, and wanted me out, where I could no longer witness their abuses.

There is no way to conclusively prove that God exists.  But if He does, then I see his work here, his hand, leading and guiding me even in the darkness.  And the light is shining through.

[Update 8/12/13:]

This blog post freaked me out just now, because it sounded so much like what Richard put me through, that I wondered if it was about him–a man who befriends fragile women, makes them trust him, then begins to devalue and discard them.

I came across it while reading through a blog by a suicidal BPD woman, who does want treatment for her BPD but is finding it hard to come by:

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood

If someone with BPD admits to having this disorder and tries to get it treated, I am more inclined to compassion.  It’s the person who destroys others but tells them it’s their fault, like I witnessed in Tracy, that I can’t abide.

Richard is convicted of choking his daughter

He was charged with intentional child abuse causing injury with high probability of great harm, and second degree recklessly endangering safety, both serious felonies that could have led to significant jail time.

But on October 3, 2011, he plea bargained it down to the child abuse charge being dismissed, but read into the record, and the reckless endangerment charge being amended to a class A misdemeanor of battery, with a year’s probation and a fine.

Though if he screws up on probation, he could get 10 days in jail.

My husband and I both feel he got off far too lightly, with a disgraceful slap on the wrist that teaches him nothing.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

I report them to CPS; Richard is charged with abusing his daughter

[There is more to this story later.  This update was written before I knew what all had happened.  In September I found out more details.]

I discovered on July 1, 2011, through our state’s public access website, that Richard has been charged with two felonies by the state: Second degree recklessly endangering safety, and child abuse with high probability of great harm.

Research into these statutes reveals that the second one, under the statute for physical abuse of a child, is described as, “Whoever intentionally causes bodily harm to a child by conduct which creates a high probability of great bodily harm is guilty of a Class F felony.”

So he has done something terrible to at least one of the children–on purpose.  Which of those beautiful, sweet girls did he hurt?  How did he hurt her?  Why??  How could he??  Was it reported by a teacher, by a doctor?

When I first made acquaintance with him over the Internet in 2005, he seemed to be very cool.  For years I thought he was the most interesting, charismatic, and pious person I knew.  I was drawn to him, and for a long time, he seemed to be drawn to me just as strongly.

But somewhere along the way, things changed–and I never could have imagined that one day I would be writing these things about him and Tracy.  And now he’s done something horrible to at least one, maybe two of the children.  I don’t know what, because the website gives the charges but no details.

It happened on September 21, 2010–almost three months after 7/1/10 (the end of our friendship), either a few weeks or two months before I saw Tracy hanging out of the van window as they drove past, and three months before they came to my church at Christmas.

Then in February 2011–the same month that I probably looked at the calendar, realized six months had passed since I told Tracy that Jeff and I wanted a six-month break, wondered if they would now try to contact us, and soon became very upset that they did not–the charges were filed with the District Attorney’s office.

While I posted my “Fighting the Darkness” blog post and wondered if he would see it (since I was still on his blogroll), he could have been sitting in jail:

The charges were filed 2/10/11; I don’t know when the crime was discovered and reported, when/if he was arrested or how long till he posted bail, since none of these details are on the website at this time.

We saw nothing of him between Christmas 2010 and the Sunday before Greekfest, which was in mid-June 2011, not even a glimpse of his minivan on the street; could he have been in jail then?

I can hardly expect someone who’s dealing with such things to put problems with me on his list of high priorities.  But then, wouldn’t it be good to get all the friends around you that you can?

Still, it would be useless for him to court us if he justifies his actions and thinks the state should not prosecute whatever he did.

I can have no friendship with a child abuser, and only tolerated Tracy because of him.  Child abusers and spousal abusers disgust me, which is why I only tolerated Tracy and would have preferred to have nothing to do with her.

But of course, they blamed me and treated me like I was the problem, like there was absolutely no reason not to be friends with Tracy, like only skanks would not want to be friends with the wife of their male friend.

Research into the state statutes on the charges filed, the different kinds of felonies, and state manuals for Child Protective Services, revealed that he could be in quite a bit of trouble.  Felonies are the most serious kind of charge, with serious consequences.

“Intentional” means he would either have done it with the purpose of hurting the child, or while punishing the child, even if not necessarily meaning to hurt the child.

In either case, this would not be an accident, because anything accidental could either be given a lesser charge (negligence or recklessness), or not charged at all.

And bodily harm of some kind was done to the child, by behavior which caused the high probability of great bodily harm.  You can’t use the defense of parental right to discipline when you’ve caused bodily harm to your child and put the child at risk of great bodily harm.

The types of felonies involved could lead to many years in prison.  Research into how criminal charges are filed, revealed that first there would be an arrest, then a police report sent to the prosecutor.

So at some point, he must have been arrested, possibly thinking he was being oppressed, because he was against the police–wanted police departments to be disbanded and all such matters put in the hands of sheriffs and citizens with guns to protect their families–said he could protect Jeff’s and my family.

Also, he had made grumblings against CPS, as did Chris, the friend he made here in town who agreed with him politically.

And I have discovered that their political persuasion tends to be very anti-CPS, treating CPS as the oppressor–an agent of government control, kidnappers, rapists–rather than as the protector of children who can’t protect themselves.

[Note: This paragraph was written after I found the details of the case in September 2011.  I discovered that Chris vanished from my Facebook probably late January or early February 2011.  He had only just posted something that showed up on my wall around that time, so I knew it was very recent when I first discovered it.

The charges were filed on February 10, so I don’t know if Chris knew about them yet.  I’m pretty sure Richard wasn’t talking about them on Facebook, since Todd was on Richard’s Facebook but had no idea about these things until I told him about them in September, but Richard may have mentioned them to Chris.  

On December 8, 2010, when charges had not yet been filed but the choking incident had been reported a couple of months prior, I posted a link on Facebook to Domestic Violence Handbook: For Wisconsin Child Protective Services Workers.

Facebook at that time was full of people changing their profile pictures in remembrance of child abuse, but I was posting links and this note about things Tracy did, instead.  

I don’t have the message in front of me and have to go on memory, but Chris posted in response to the link something nasty and accusatory about CPS.  Something about them wanting to take your kids away if you don’t follow the rules.  

I deleted it because I wanted my post to help people avoid child and domestic abuse, not become some political argument about CPS.]

The prosecutor decides from the report whether or not to press charges, and for what, and must do so within a few days.

Since the charges weren’t filed until nearly five months after the incident, what was the incident, and did it take a long time before the authorities became aware of it?  How did they learn of it?  How did they know it happened on 9-21?

This suggests that the arrest would have taken place around early February, as I wrote above.  The trial is set for November 2011.

When I learned about the charges against Richard, the shock and dismay affected me physically.

On March 1, 2011, I had mailed a letter, i.e. filed a report, with the local Department of Social Services agency about them, expecting only that–if my report was even taken seriously–it would lead to the DSS providing them with various services and helps.

My old college friend Mike, a pastor and former shelter worker, spoke with me on Facebook on July 4th or 5th, 2010, about the friendship breakup.  The breakup had just happened on the 1st.

I told him the abuses that Tracy had committed against Richard, their children and me, and that Richard was tempted to hit her back if she ever hit his face.

Mike told me I needed to report them for the sake of the children, but I wrote, “I don’t want to be vindictive.” He wrote, “Don’t let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right for those children!”

I did consider it.  I had also considered it back in January of that year, while we were still friends.

But I was afraid to call CPS because Tracy could punish me for it, either by trying to kill me like I was told she once wanted to do while living in my house, or by reporting me to CPS on some trumped-up charge.

Or because Richard could assault me as he had wanted to assault that apartment manager.

When I discussed it with Jeff, probably shortly after talking with Mike, we agreed that it was too risky to report Richard and Tracy.

Though I was afraid, over the following months I kept coming across things again and again–forum posts, newspaper articles–that said if you suspect child abuse, you must be an “angel” to that child and report it.

Then in late February 2011, I saw The Boondock Saints for the second time (the first time being the night before 8/1/10, when Richard and Tracy came to my church), and the scene which says that evil happens because good men do nothing:

Monsignor: “And I am reminded, on this holy day, of the sad story of Kitty Genovese.

As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police.

They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. 

Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.”

Connor to his brother as they leave church: “I do believe the monsignor’s finally got the point.”

I was so worried about Richard and Tracy’s girls, growing up in that squalor, in that abusive environment, with that crazy mother–though I had no idea yet that Richard was just as bad as she was.  So finally I said Uncle to my conscience, and began compiling a letter.

First, before mailing the letter, I checked the state’s public access court records website to see if either Richard or Tracy had been charged with domestic violence in the past few years, or any sort of violence–especially since Richard made some comment back in spring 2010 about being arrested numerous times for reasons he didn’t explain.

I wondered if Tracy’s rages had ever been reported by neighbors, especially since I knew she was going into them in early 2009, when they lived in an apartment building and could probably have been heard easily.

But I found no such listing for either of them–though if I had checked the very next day, I would have seen that Richard was charged nearly a month earlier with intentionally and physically abusing one of his children!

Then I checked with a college friend who has been doing social work for years in Madison with troubled adolescents, to see if the things I witnessed, qualified as child abuse in Wisconsin.

She said my concerns are indeed valid, and that Richard and Tracy both sound very abusive.  Her own family was like Richard and Tracy’s, and they still suffer from the after-effects to this day.

She urged me to please report them, to help the children and to help Richard.

I filed the report with DSS, not with the police department, because I wanted them to get services, not to be charged with a crime.  I didn’t expect the children to even be removed from the home.

I expected they would work out a long-term plan, in accordance with DSS procedures, with anger management counseling, parenting courses, and various other services that would help them to stop the abuse and become a healthy, happy family.

I figured that if they knew what was in the report, they would know who made it.  But I saw a news documentary in which one couple said they’d been reported for abusing their children, and a year later, they were very grateful for that report, because they were now much better parents and spouses.

I hoped that this would be the same thing with Richard and Tracy, that in time they would forgive me because they knew I did the right thing, that they would realize it led to their family becoming healthy and happy, and that they would reach out to Jeff and me in friendship, forgiveness and repentance.

Though when I showed the letter to Jeff, he said it meant the permanent end of the friendship.  But I accepted this because it was the right thing to do.  My friends praised my courage.

Also, when I made the report, it was Tracy whom I saw as the principal abuser, with Richard primarily the victim and the one who was trying desperately to keep her from harming the children as well.

On July 1, 2011, the first anniversary of the end of our friendship, I was grieving, and also wondered if the report to DSS had led to criminal charges, so I looked them up again.

When I discovered these charges had been made against Richard, and that they had been made before my report was even sent to DSS, I was devastated.

I had so looked up to him, so idolized him, and used his story as a reason to raise awareness (on the Abuse page of this website) and on Facebook for the problem of domestic violence by women against men.

I saw him as the protector of his children against someone who could very easily harm them all physically and mentally if left unchecked.

In the summer of 2010, I had even written down all the knowledge I had of her abuses, so that if one day I was called as a character witness for him in divorce court or on domestic violence charges, I could present it to the court.

Could he really be capable of harming them himself?  Then I began to piece together the things I already knew, things he had said to me, things I had already written right here in this account (which I started writing in probably fall 2010).

I realized it was all right there in front of me that yes, he is capable of hurting his children!  I just didn’t want to see it!  And if Tracy were to hit him in the face, he could fight back and kill her!  It’s all right there!  The bastard!

I was now very glad to have put in my report the things he did, too, that I knew about: putting the children in the closet at least once, defending smacking a kid upside the head.

He would occasionally deadpan to the oldest girl how he was going to treat her if she did something bad like have sex when she became a teenager, the horrible things he would do to her, then she would cry, and then everyone would laugh nervously as Tracy scolded him for scaring the girl and we realized he was joking.  At least, I think he was joking.

He once told me that when he said things like that to the second-oldest daughter, she just laughed at him.  But if the oldest daughter didn’t get the joke, then it’s not funny, and could actually scar her for life.

Another time, as he drove his children (three at the time) and me to his church (since my priest was on vacation and there were no services), I told him my frustrations with dealing with my son.

This was 2008; my son was four at the time, had begun smacking me around and taunting me so I was actually scared of him.  The only thing that got him to stop (and kept me safe) was to lock him in his room for a few minutes until he calmed down.

It was the middle of the day, he still wore Pull-ups because he just wasn’t interested in using the toilet yet, and it was only for maybe 10 minutes, but I still read books that made this sound abusive.

“What else am I supposed to do?” I cried.  “This is the only thing that works!”

I wasn’t beating him, wasn’t putting him in the closet (unlike Richard), wasn’t putting him in the dark, wasn’t leaving him in his room all day long, wasn’t making him wet himself; I was just separating us both for a short time-out so he wouldn’t hurt me and we would both calm down….

Richard began telling me about something he either did or threatened to do to his oldest girl, something horrible.  I don’t remember the details, just that he deadpanned it and freaked me out a bit.

Something about it made me think he was just kidding around, so I said, “It’s a good thing I know you’re just joking!”

But now–I’m not so sure it was a joke.  I just wish I could remember what he said.

On June 10, 2010, he posted on Facebook for suggestions on how to get the kids to clean without “beating them into bloody submission” which only gets them flinching when he raises a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.

At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Jeff wrote when I e-mailed him about this post, “So: he’s finally learning…?  Yelling at them just makes things worse, and should only be a last resort.”

Richard once plotted to kill the woman who evicted them.  He was once a Mafia thug.

I knew all along that Richard was just as capable of abuse as Tracy, but I didn’t want to face it!

He had said things to me that I found very disturbing, defending and promoting behaviors toward a spouse and toward children which shocked me.  He threatened my husband, said that he was very easily provoked to physical violence.

It was all there!  (And it’s also all here in this account.)

These charges had absolutely nothing to do with my report, being filed almost a month before I mailed my report (a very detailed letter).

The children had probably been removed for a time, but by the time we saw Richard around town again in June, they had obviously been returned.

But his address, according to the website, changed in April 2011–Was he allowed to live with the children, or did he have to move out?  Why were the children returned to someone who had obviously harmed one of them?

I tried to be sure that DSS wouldn’t let him be around the children without certain safeguards being in place, without him at least showing that he could control himself now.

That man is very large, 6’5, 400 pounds according to online court records, even larger than his large wife, and his children very small.  (Those little ones especially needed protection from two large, angry people.)

For months, I had been posting this account online, then making it private, over and over, as I continuously added things.  What started as two short paragraphs on my abuse page, turned into thousands of words.

Sometimes I was too scared to post it, and sometimes I wanted the world to know what happened.  In June 2011 it was online again, but I blocked this account from the public starting on 7/1/11, after discovering the charges, at least until I knew what happened and whether I’d be subpoenaed.

The charges against him could lead to many years in state prison.  I could end up subpoenaed, either because of our friendship or because of the report I made to the DSS.  Could we end up taking in the children?

This discovery has done several things for me, especially since I had nothing to do with the charges made against Richard:

  1. Shown me that I was not imagining it, that their abuse was real.
  2. Shown me that their good opinion is not worth courting.
  3. Shown me that neither of them are good people, that they’re both child abusers who should not be in our lives.
  4. Shown me that DSS–which confirmed the receipt of my letter–must have taken it very seriously, not tossed it aside as I had feared, because they and the state would already have a file open on Richard, would already be extremely interested in what goes on in that family, would be working on a case against him.
  5. Helped me to start moving on.

If Richard is in jail for many years, it won’t matter one bit if our friendship is repaired or not, because our friendship will be at an end anyway.  How can we be friends with a jailed convict, with a convicted child abuser?

How can I spend hours chattering and playing with him on the Net if he’s in jail?  How can we chat on the phone, or visit each other if he’s in jail?  How can I want to be friends with someone who has hurt one of his children on purpose?

And since both Jeff and I can’t stand Tracy, we will not wish to have a thing to do with her if Richard is in jail.

If DSS’s investigation into my report, along with the investigation they were surely already doing because of the charges against Richard, leads them to agree that Tracy is very abusive, that Tracy should not be left to raise them alone–the children could be placed elsewhere.

Richard may still be able to be a psychologist when he gets out of prison, but a priest?  No one will ordain a convicted child abuser!  I will have nothing to fear on that account.  I will also not have to fear him finding this blog.

I can hope that while in prison, he will have lots of time to think over his life and make changes.  Who knows, maybe Jeff and/or I will receive a remorseful letter one day….

[Update 5/3/14:] Every day after this discovery, for some time, I kept printouts of Richard’s case next to me on my computer desk, and looked at them.  I needed to believe it was real; I needed my heart to understand that he’s no good.  Every day I wondered what he had done, and if the newspaper would ever report on it.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

Then Richard choked his daughter

[This is a backdated post written later.]

I titled the last chapter “Conclusion” because I thought the story was now done, unless one day, finally, Richard would come to me and apologize for his actions and for hurting me.  I often dreamed of it, whether at night or in daydreams.

But then everything changed when I discovered that he choked his daughter shortly after we broke off the friendship:

The local newspaper published Richard’s charges, address and mug shot online, and the state’s official online court records published his birthdate as well, so there was no doubt it was the same Richard.

Seeing his face on my computer screen, angry and looking down, with the charges described underneath–I never could have imagined this….

Here is the exact quote from the newspaper, only edited to remove Richard’s name, address and age:

[Richard] was charged March 1 [2011] with second-degree recklessly endangering safety and child abuse high probability of causing great harm.

He is free on a $5,000 signature bond.

On Sept. 22, 2010, police met with a 9-year-old girl who claimed [Richard] choked her and then she awoke on a couch, according to the criminal complaint.

[Richard] allegedly admitted that the girl was not listening and cleaning up and that he had “asphyxiated” her, according to the complaint.

[Richard] said he apologized to the girl when she woke up.

[Richard] will be in court March 31 for a preliminary hearing.

This was also backed up by the online court records, which gave a full history of Richard’s charges and a partial history of court events, including that–as a condition of his bond–he had to follow an informal agreement with Social Services.

On October 3, 2011, when Richard went to court for a plea/sentencing hearing, the court records published that he was declared guilty of battery through a no contest plea, and sentenced to a year of probation.

His no contest plea meant that the endangering safety charge was dismissed, the child abuse charge was dismissed but read into the record and could be used in sentencing, and his charge was amended to battery.  He was found guilty of battery, a misdemeanor.

I hoped he would plead guilty and save his child from the stress of going through a trial, but I thought he would still get jail time.  The initial charges would have made him a felon, in prison for many years!  Even his beloved guns and voting rights would be forbidden him.

I thought my once-beloved ex-BFF would be locked away for years, with a restoration of friendship impossible–but I no longer wanted it.  Friends with someone who choked his own child?  Heck, no!

He must have had a dang good lawyer to get such a sweet deal.  I refused to vote for her when she ran for city council, because getting him a deal like this, made me wonder about her character.

At least he still has probation, still has a guilty charge of battery.  He was found guilty of battery by a court of law for choking the 9-year-old.

This city is way too lenient on child abuse.  This was just a frickin’ slap on the wrist.

As soon as I discovered this, I realized that everything Richard and Tracy ever said to complain about me, was a sham.  I saw that they are the true criminals here. 

I saw that the image they created of themselves to everyone, of being decent, pious and law-abiding Christians, was a lie, a cover.  And now the law had laid it all bare as the con act it is.

I saw all of Tracy’s words against me, evaporate as if they had never been uttered–because none of it is real, none of it matters, when uttered by criminals.  I might as well have dreamed it all.

I expected that they were both ashamed of what had happened, so ashamed that they would creep out of the public eye.  I expected that Tracy would divorce Richard for nearly killing her daughter, and/or that the child would be given to her birth father.

Discovering later that none of these things happened, shows just how much the world lacks justice, how light on child abuse the courts are around here, and how ineffective Social Services is. 

I have discovered other people who complain that Social Services and the courts here are a joke regarding child abuse.

In a perfect and just world, Richard and Tracy would have been tossed out of every respectable circle or establishment, Richard would have gone to jail for many years, the children would have been placed with a loving and NOT abusive family, and Richard and Tracy would have slunk off to some other place where nobody heard of Richard’s charges.

They certainly never would have dared show their faces at my church again, because the shame of what happened would fill them so much that they would not want to face me.

Because they would know that they treated me poorly, that I did not deserve it, and that they had no right putting themselves above me morally or in any other way–whether how I run my house, how I raise my child, what I feed my family, how I act socially, what is “appropriate” behavior, how a wife should treat her husband, how she behaved on 7/1/10, etc. etc...

All her scolds and nasty e-mails to me were just as meaningless as a small dog barking at a passerby, and just as worthy of disdain.

But this world is neither perfect nor just.  Richard and Tracy still imagine themselves superior to me, as you will see if you read here and follow the posts after.  They are probably both narcissists and/or sociopaths.

And Richard and Tracy’s children are the victims, the ones who are made to suffer for this.

The following parts of this story are my reactions in the months following this discovery.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing